Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I started my Birth Doula training, and here is why.

On September 27, 2011, I began my training to become a birth doula.

I've been in awe of the pregnancy and birthing process for a long time, and it's why I was going to nursing school in 2006-2007.  Nursing didn't end up working out for me, because the math requirements were too high and I wasn't able to comfortably say that I could calculate medication dosing for patients. Ever since leaving nursing school, I've still been clinging to this idea that I could still help make a difference in the lives of mothers going through the special process of pregnancy and birth.

There is plenty wrong with the system that offers maternal care to pregnant women. Women are not given the facts that they need to make their own educated decisions about how they want their birth experience to be. Women are not trusted to make those decisions for their own bodies and for their children. Women are told misinformation by medical professionals who are supposed to be educating them. Women are told that there are right ways to do things, and that doing things outside of the 'norm' is potentially dangerous to their child. Throughout the pregnancy and birth process, the focus has been entirely removed from the woman who should be empowered to make her own choices. And all this is true even for privileged, white, able-bodied, fortunate women. 

For those who are in marginalized groups, the American system for pregnancy is even worse. Women who have low income are forced into going with choices that they wouldn't optimally like to pick for their birthing process. They don't receive the emotional support that they need to deal with the trying time of pregnancy. The attention is turned even more to their child and their financial status, and less on the welfare of the woman. Diverse cultures are pigeon-holed into having a pregnancy and birth experience that mimics our American hospital-driven birth ideals without consideration for their cultural and spiritual needs. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual families do not have the support they need, and can not always trust that the doctor who delivers their baby will support their lifestyle choices.  Transgender individuals shouldn't be having to educate their medical professionals about trans issues. 

I am also fiercely pro-choice and support a woman's right to make all the choices about her body that she wants to. Women who are choosing to terminate their pregnancies through abortion (medical or surgical) should be able to find a doula who will support them through those choices. 

All of these reasons are why I have started the process of becoming a full-spectrum doula. Full spectrum means that I will be providing doula support for women who choose to have their pregnancy any way they would like, whether they choose adoption, abortion, home birth, natural birth, a hospital birth, a birth with a midwife, or with a doctor.  I'm starting out by taking the Birth Doula training offered by Childbirth International, which will provide me with certification once I have completed the course and the two required births. Once I have finished with that, I plan to complete their courses for Postpartum Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor.  I plan to start out as a volunteer doula for organizations such as the San Francisco Bay Area Doula Project, and the San Francisco General Hospital Volunteer Doula Program.  Depending how this goes, I may continue on with a goal of making this a career and becoming a Licensed Midwife through the National Midwifery Institute.  Either way, I'm starting out supporting full spectrum and radical doula perspectives.  

This blog is going to be a mixture of things.  First off, I'm going to document my process of becoming a radical full spectrum doula.  I'm going to educate other people about how to become a full spectrum doula.  I'm going to talk about things I've learned and opinions that I have formed throughout this process. I'm going to talk about general birth and pregnancy concepts and link to interesting content around the web. I hope to bring people along in this journey so we can learn together.

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